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Posted on Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Washtenaw Coordinated Funders wins nonprofit award

By Lizzy Alfs

See also:'s Business Review reveals winners of 2011 Deals of the Year awards

In an example of effective public-private partnerships, several Washtenaw County groups are working together to coordinate grant decisions to fund human services across the county. Business Review's 2011 Deals of the Year awards's Business Review reveals winners of 2011 Deals of the Year awards

The United Way of Washtenaw County, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and the Office of Community and Economic Development - representing the city of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County - are combining nearly $5 million for the partnership, known as Washtenaw Coordinated Funders. They were named Friday as the Nonprofit winner at Business Review’s 2011 Deals of the Year ceremony.

From left: Sandy Hilton, the executive director of Perry Nursery School; Sandy Williams, the Development Director of Perry Nursery School; United Way President Sandra Rupp and United Way campaign chairwoman Ora Pescovitz

Angela Cesere |

Washtenaw Coordinated Funders is a two-year pilot program that will distribute grants through a single, coordinated grant-making process that simplifies the application processes and expedites funding distribution to human service priority areas.

High-priority areas include early childhood, school-age youth, aging, homelessness, hunger relief, and safety-net health and nutrition.

The groups seek to enhance the impact of their combined grant dollars and identify gaps in funding.

It will also establish shared priorities for human-service needs and encourage greater collaboration among human-service agencies, according to the Council on Foundations, which recognized the effort as en effective partnership.

In the complex world of nonprofit funding, this collaboration will make grant-making more efficient and make it easier for human service resources to be delivered.

The initiative serves as a role model for collaboration in philanthropy, earning the effort a Deal of the Year award for nonprofits.

The collaboration is also altering the model for how nonprofits are given the grants. Typically, groups are reimbursed, but the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders will give money at the beginning of each quarter.

Of the pooled $5 million, the Office of Community and Economic Development is contributing $2.6 million, the United Way is contributing $2.08 million, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation is contributing $250,000, according to a report in Crain’s Detroit Business.

“The big-picture idea here is we can make a much bigger impact on the areas of greatest need in our community by working together instead of acting as an independent funding entity,” said Neel Hajra, COO and vice president of community investment for the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, in the report.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at